Springfield, Mass. (Courtesy falconsahl.com) – The Springfield Falcons (8-1-0-2) scored four times in the opening period and received 35 saves from red-hot goaltender Curtis McElhinney, shutting down the Norfolk Admirals (6-5-0-0) on Sunday evening at the MassMutual Center, 5-0. The Falcons, who blanked the Connecticut Whale 2-0 on Friday night, recorded consecutive shutouts this weekend for the first time since January of 1996, lead the Eastern Conference with 18 points after five weeks of play, and are atop the AHL with a .818 points percentage.
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After downing the Whale with a pair of third-period goals on Friday night, the Falcons wasted no time finding the net on Sunday.
Nick Drazenovic’s pair of tallies in the first period created room between the Falcons and the Admirals. After Norfolk goaltender Igor Bobkov stopped a Cam Atkinson shot from the top of the left circle, Drazenovic tipped in the rebound just 41 seconds into the opening frame with Springfield on a power play, providing the Falcons with a 1-0 lead. Drazenovic banged in the follow-up bid created by an Atkinson partial-breakaway at 9:25 for the 2-0 advantage.
With the Falcons back on a power play at 18:06 of the first, Matt Calvert snapped in a centering feed from Ryan Craig, making it 3-0.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault extended his point streak to four games (3g-3a) at 18:54, burying a rebound off a John Moore blast, as the Falcons exited the first period up 4-0. The Admirals replaced Bobkov with Frederik Andersen in net after the opening 20 minutes.
The Falcons’ reached three power-play goals for the first time in 2012-2013, as Matt Calvert rerouted a puck from an Atkinson drive on the left edge of the crease and in at 19:03 of the second.
After seeing only 20 shots on Friday, McElhinney’s exam was more rigourous on Sunday, but the eighth-year pro answered every Admirals challenge. He became the second Falcons netminder to secure four shutouts since Manny Legace set a franchise record with five in 1995-1996. McElhinney (8-1-1) is atop the league in wins and shutouts and is third with a .955 save percentage and a 1.29 goals-against average. The Denver, Colo. resident extended his shutout streak to 138 minutes and 20 seconds dating back to the 1:40 mark of the third period last Sunday in Connecticut. Bobkov (3-3-0) let in four goals on 12 shots while Andersen made 18 saves on 19 attempts in relief.
The Falcons ended their stretch of nine home games in 11 contests to begin the 2012-2013 campaign with a 6-1-0-2 record at the MassMutual Center. Springfield embarks on its first road trip of the season next week, heading to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday to meet the Penguins and then venturing to Norfolk to battle the Admirals on Friday and Saturday. Springfield closes out its road trip on Friday, Nov. 23 in Portland against the Pirates.
The Falcons return home for “Movember Night presented by Baystate Health” on Saturday, Nov. 24 against the Manchester Monarchs at 7:00 p.m. The first 1,000 fans into the building that night will receive mustaches as part of an effort to generate awareness of prostate cancer and other male illnesses.
Single-game tickets to see the Falcons in 2012-2013 can be purchased at the MassMutual Center Box Office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. through game time on Saturday home dates, and starting four hours prior to Sunday home contests. Fans can also purchase tickets by logging onto Ticketmaster.com. For information about discounted group packages to Falcons home games, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625).
The Falcons have reached four shutouts this season in 11 games after having a previous club mark of fastest to four shutouts of 43 games in 1995-1996…Drazenovic took the team lead with six goals…After not having a single player with a multi-goal game in the first eight contests of the season, at least one Falcon has scored twice in each of the last three outings…Springfield has taken points in 10 of its first 11 games for the second time in franchise history…The Falcons began the 1997-1998 season with points in 11 of their first 12 outings (8-1-3)…Springfield’s league-best goals-against average is 1.55…The Falcons have outscored their opponents 40-17, including a 17-3 advantage in the first period…Springfield has scored first in 10-straight games since relinquishing the first goal to St. John’s in an opening-night win on Oct. 13…Audy-Marchessault became the first Falcon to generate a four-game point streak this season…The Falcons have earned points in seven-straight games for the first time since Nov. 9 to 21 of 2007…The franchise record for longest unbeaten streak in regulation is nine games, accomplished most recently from Mar. 6 to 28 of 1997 (9-0-0) and also Oct. 19 to Nov. 16 of 1996 (7-0-2)…The Falcons notched three shutouts from Jan. 21 to 26 of 1996, the only other time in the club’s 19 years that they posted consecutive shutouts…McElhinney received his award for CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for October prior to Sunday’s game…The Falcons have won three-straight games for the second time this season